Category Archives: sci-fi

Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

(Finished December 20, 2011)

Yes, #2 took me three days to read. This took me 11. Why? It is my least favorite of the Hunger Games books. And I can’t really pinpoint exactly why. I think it just felt like it dragged on forever…and then when the end finally came it was over in a wink. The ending was predictable too.

So at the end of book two, Katniss has just blown up games, basically. But she finds out it was all planned. She’s picked up on the playing field and transported to the infamous DISTRICT 13, which, of course, does exist. (How could it not?)

Turns out 13 has been plotting and biding its time — waiting for a chance to take attack Panem. Katniss has given them this chance. The other districts are rioting against the Capitol. 13 sees its opportunity.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Peeta was captured by the Capitol and has been trained to hate Katniss. So that makes things interesting when they go on a mission to save him.

With Katniss as the “GIRL ON FIRE” — the face of the rebellion — things go crazy fast. Fights, angst. And then Katniss and Peeta and Gale are in the Capitol running from scary rat creatures.

SPOILERS:

In the end, of course, 13 and the districts defeat Panem. Life goes back to “normal”. And Katniss, speaking from 15 years in the future explains why she did end up with Peeta.

(Felt a little J.K. Rowling-at-the-end-of-HP to me.)

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Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

(Finished December 9, 2011)

FINALLY.  I borrowed books two and three of The Hunger Games from Kira and devoured them. Book two was pretty good. Book three, you will see, was not so much. Both were predictable.

In book two, Katniss and Peeta are forced to return to a special edition of The Hunger Games. To celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of Panem, the past tributes from each district must compete. This means the broken, the strong, the young and the old will all fight one another to the death.

Of course things are complicated because Pres. Snow threatens Katniss. He sees her has a threat against Panem because of her suicide attempt the year before. He’s creepy, that’s all I have to say. And I wouldn’t want to cross him. (The creepy roses…)

To make a long story short, Katniss and Peeta find allies during the games and at the end of the book, they really stick it to the Capitol. And thus begins book three…

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Yes, I have finally gotten around to reading The Hunger Games. Or rather I finally got it from the library after being on the waiting list for about two months.

It was worth the wait. Well, really, it probably would have been worth buying buuuuuuut oh well.

I’m just glad I finally read it. So good. Although I don’t know how I feel about it being meant for kids, what with the forced murder and violence and all.

Clearly, Katniss is awesome. She is the kind of heroine I had wished for Margo to be in Once Upon a River. She is a skilled hunter, smart, cunning, brave and talented. But she’s still messed up — she has problems — she just seems to deal with them in a much more productive way than Margo.

Oh, and yeah, Katniss is a weird name. I’m just glad they explained it was a kind of plant. Because otherwise, I would have continued being confused about her name. (Little things like that bug me when I’m reading — don’t know why.)

Anyway, she’s awesome. And then there’s Peeta.Who just comes off as this adorable guy. And I totally called from the beginning, when he was also chosen as a tribute and Katniss had a weird reaction, that something was going to happen there. Typical young adult book plot. But I was totally okay with how it played out in during the Games. Even his apparent back-stabbing was perfect. Of course it was all a part of the games. (Or so we think at this point…? Might there be twists lurking in the next book?)

I won’t share too much — don’t want to give away any spoilers — but let’s just say the games are intense. And nutso. The whole Panem and Capitol and Districts — that whole situation is crazy to start with, but add the Games, and wow. You reach a whole new level of crazy. Throughout the first half of the book, I had to keep reading simply to find out what the heck they were talking about.

Like I said, I’m really glad I read this book. Can’t wait to get the second one. (Hope I get it from the library before I’m tempted to buy it! Maybe I’ll need to make a trip to my fave used bookstore just to check if they have it. Hmm…)

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

(Finished July 10, 2011)

My addiction to the Outlander series continues. I am a little obsessed with these books, and I’m not alone. Almost every review I’ve read about them includes something about their addicting nature. Once you start, you just won’t want to stop. I reserved the fourth from the Chicago Public Library’s ebooks service immediately after finishing Voyager. Now that Harry Potter is over, I’m glad I have another series to look forward to. (Although if I keep reading them at the pace I’m going, I’ll be finished within the next few months and will have to find a new series. Hunger Games? So what if they’re for kids…)

Voyager was the first book I purchased on my iPad, and the first I’ve finished there. (I’m reading Jane Eyre and The Scarlet Letter on iBooks as well, but they were both free and currently unfinished.)

Warning: There will probably be spoilers.

Recap: We left the last novel as Claire had finished explaining the end of her life with Jaime to Brianna and Roger.

Like the other Outlander novels, Voyager felt like three or four books in one.

Claire has discovered that Jaime is alive (in the past). Not only does she know that he is alive, she knows where he is – in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Encouraged by her now-grown daughter, Claire makes preparations to return to Jaime in the past.

Once she arrives, a whole host of things happen. She finds Jamie and is thrown into his outlaw lifestyle. He is a printer of seditious and libelous brochures, a smuggler and lives in a brothel. So much for the righteous man she once knew.

Much happens in Scotland, but it leads to Jaime and Claire needing to leave. They plan to go back to France. In the meantime, young Ian is kidnapped by a ship heading to the Caribbean. To get him back, Claire and Jaime must hire a ship and pursue the kidnappers.

A whole host of things happen along the way. Jaime is seasick. Fergus brings along Jaime’s step-daughter and wants to marry her. Storms. More kidnapping. Murders. Secrets. Lies. It all makes for a thrilling read. I didn’t want to stop. (And can’t wait to get to Drums of Autumn!)

Voyager (Outlander, #3)Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Well, it’s back to The Outlander series for me. These books are so incredibly addicting…but so long. I feel like I have just read three books in one. (742 pages of a giant hardcover book is about equal to three shorter novels if I do say so myself. Actually, it is about right. Recob finished three shorter novels of a similar subject in the time it took me to finish this one!)

Anyway, Dragonfly in Amber was great. Despite its length, the novel kept me extremely interested. (It helped that for most of the time I was reading, Recob was ahead of me by multiple chapters so my goal was to catch up to her – which I did! I also had to finish the beast of a book before it was due at the library on the 13th – beat that too!)

So, a little recap: We left off the last book with Claire helping Jaime escape from the English prison where he was tortured. They left for France and ended up at a monastery run by a relative of Jaime’s. With Claire’s help, Jaime recovered from his fragile mental and physical state of health while at the abbey.

Dragonfly in Amber opens with a new storyline. Claire and Brianna, her daughter who we’ve never met before, visit a young historian in 1968 Scotland. He is the adopted son of a historian Claire and her husband knew in the 40s. Claire eventually begins to tell her story to this historian and her daughter, who is actually Jaime’s daughter. (Yes, she was conceived in the 1740s and time-traveled in Claire’s womb to the 1940s. I never said this book was completely historically accurate or even made much sense at all…) Needless to say, they find it shocking and think Claire has gone pretty bonkers.

But Claire doesn’t falter. She continues to tell her story. From days spent planning at the abbey along the coast, to condemning a ship full of expensive spirits, to consorting with mysterious herbalists, to dining at Versailles with the king, Jaime and Claire have many an adventure in France. A lucky family connection to a major liquor merchant with important societal connections in Paris helps place Claire and Jaime right where they want to be: in a place to play double agent. While consorting with the society of Paris, Jaime keeps up a friendship with Bonnie Prince Charles – the son of the self-proclaimed rightful king of Scotland. Because of Claire’s knowledge about the defeat of Scottish troops in the upcoming Jacobite, or Scottish loyalist, uprising, Claire and Jaime are determined to stop Bonnie Prince Charles from carrying out his plans to reclaim the throne.

There are side plots of course. The pair meet Mary Hawkins, a girl Claire knows to be a descendant of her 1940s husband. The problem is, Jonathan Randall, the man who tortured Jaime, was supposed to be the father of Mary Hawkins’ child. But he is dead. The situation is complicated when Mary Hawkins’ creepy uncle, the Duke of Sandringham, is out to have her married off to an old French noble. The man whose ship Claire condemns by pronouncing a crew member has smallpox is out to get her and might be dabbling in the occult. Or is he? A fellow socialite and friend of Claire becomes pregnant with Bonnie Prince Charles’ illegitimate son. Claire meets an herbalist who spreads rumors that she is “La Dame Blanche” – she just can’t get rid of those witch rumors. Jaime is attacked by pirates then arrested for dueling. And so much more.

It would be impossible for me to recap the entire plot, but let’s just say a few more things: Murtagh, Jaime’s right-hand man, is kickass, Claire may or may not find another woman who has experienced the time travel of the stones, and the book ends with a major, and WONDERFUL, unexpected twist.

So now I have to read the next novel in the series: Voyager. I didn’t think I was going to continue reading the series, but after the last few paragraphs of Dragonfly in Amber, I won’t be able to help myself. I think I’ll try to finish a few more books before I start that beast, though.

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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

It has been far too long since I blogged here, and I apologize for neglecting to write. I’ve been slacking and not reading much for the last few weeks, but to be fair, I WAS working on the 850-page Outlander novel. And it is only the first novel in a seven novel series. Yikes is right. I’m planning to follow this book with a few simple, simple reads — mostly romantic comedy type books — so that when I read the second book in the Outlander series I can be ready for another long haul.

Anyway, about Outlander. So good. Miss Recob suggested this read for me. It contained some of my favorite things: Europe, historical fiction, “magic” and a super attractive, accented lead male. Yep, sold.

The time travel aspect of this book is weird, I’m not going to lie. When I tried to tell people about it, they were like, “Wait, what?!” It is clearly important to the plot, but as you continue to read and become more involved in the characters, the time travel becomes more of a background plot line. It becomes more and more possible as you grow attached to Claire and Jaime.

Claire is this awesome, strong woman. You want things to go well for her. You want her to be loved and to succeed. She is pretty badass, too. Plus, she’s not a total bitty so you like her for that, too. Jaime, a ginger of course, is like the quintessential male hero. He is brave and strong and stubborn, but sweet and vulnerable and chivalrous as well. You WILL fall in love with this character. You will.

Another aspect of the book that made it hard to put down was the Scottish clan culture. It was SO interesting. Maybe it’s because I’ve never learned much about the history of Europe, but the whole clan loyalty thing astounds me. It sounds so wonderful and idyllic. And it kind of made me hate the British. But just a little…

Oh, so there’s this whole connection to Claire’s husband in the twentieth century that complicates the whole thing. His great-great-great grandfather or something is this horrible English soldier who tortures Jaime…in a very inappropriate way, might I add. He is like the perfect antagonist. You hate him, you really do, but there is like a MOMENT, a tiny little moment, when you feel sorry for him — it makes his character so much more realistic. Good job, Diana.

To sum it up, this book was definitely worth the read. It didn’t feel like 850 pages. Not at all. And I can’t wait to read the next one…because it’s in FRANCE. Yeah, winner.

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